News Ltd CEO Kim Williams is having the biggest day of his career. The man's already launched a $1.97 billion takeover of James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings and, after breaking for lunch, will tell staff about his plans for a major restructure of the business.
He's quickly proving he's capable of what he promised The Power Index when we spoke to him late last year, just days before Rupert Murdoch installed the one-time composer as John Hartigan's replacement for overseeing two-thirds of Australia's metropolitan newspapers and more than 120 suburban or regional titles.
"I'm not backward in coming forward," Williams told us at the time. "I'm not a great believer in toiling the soil before getting stuck into a problem."
Indeed, Williams' Big Wednesday has seen him ramp up his digital media credentials. ConsMedia owns 25% of Foxtel, and the takeover will also give News the final 50% stake in Fox Sports that it doesn't already own. His long-awaited major restructure will see him make significant staff cuts to consolidate the empire's digital agenda. Meanwhile, News is also set to announce its acquisition of online business media, Business Spectator and Eureka Report.
Some saw Williams' surprise ascension to the top job at News as an unlikely one, given he'd spent ten years running Foxtel. But while there Williams managed to see the pay TV giant turn a profit after more than a decade of losses. He did the once seemingly impossible: getting people to pay for what they previously got for free -- television.
Murdoch's hoping what Williams did for TV, he can also do for mass-market news on the internet.
No big fan of sport himself (although he's a former Australian lego champion), he's long known it's the key to media success. Last year he scored a significant deal for Foxtel when the AFL awarded it joint broadcasting rights for its 2012 to 2016 games.
He's said to be someone who likes to do things himself, and get his own way. The world-class schmoozer's got no journalism experience, but all the right connections. Married to Catherine Dovey, Gough Whitlam's daughter, he's close to Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer.
Educated at a state comprehensive school, Williams won a Commonwealth scholarship to Sydney University where he studied music and had plans for becoming a composer. He spent some time in Italy pursuing the ambition, before landing back in Sydney to lecture at the Sydney Conservatorium and stepping onto the corporate ladder via a gig as general manager of Musica Viva. He's worked at the Australian Film Commission, Southern Star and the ABC.
When The Power Index spoke to the media maestro we found him straight-up, stunningly articulate and just a little bit prickly. Good for a colourful quote, he's much less guarded than his corporate counterparts. One of the country's foremost digital media experts described him as a "force of nature" who's been "successful at pretty much everything he does."
We named him No. 2 on our Digital Media list and No. 4 on our Media Maestros list. But that was last November. Barely six months into his new job at News, he's already soared much higher up The Power Index.